Generators are used at homes during power outages and at the off-grid construction sites, campgrounds tailgate, and even power RVs. They can be pretty expensive, but still, you can find many budget-friendly options under $500. These inexpensive machines will not only power your essentials but also keep your wallet happy.
- When buying a cheap generator is a good idea
- If purchasing an expensive or a mid-range generator is not possible for you, but needs one to solve power problems.
- If you need a generator only for a few years
- If you are going to use it occasionally
- If you are planning to buy a generator only for recreational use
Mistakes to Avoid while buying a Generator under $500
All the generators on our list of high quality. We have made sure that you do not end up with a low-quality generator in this price range. When buying a generator under $500, you must carefully consider the power output, features like safety control panel, fuel options, and portability. All these features vary from one model to another. You can select the best one according to your needs.
In this guide, we have reviewed the top 7 generators under 500 dollars. We have also included a buying guide and a FAQ section to help you buy the best generator in this range. Let’s look at the reviews now.
Table of Contents
Cheap Generator under $500 Reviews
Champion Power Equipment 76533 Generator
DuroMax XP4400E RV Grade Generator
WEN 56200i Portable Inverter Generator
Durostar DS4000S Portable Generator
WEN 56475 Portable Generator
Pulsar G2319N Portable Inverter Generator
Rainier R2200i Portable Inverter Generator
1. Champion Power Equipment 76533 – Best Dual Fuel Generator under $500
Fuel Option: Champion Power Equipment 76533 is a dual fuel generator that runs on gasoline or propane. A fuel selector switch is available that allows easy conversion between propane and gasoline.
Generator Type: It is an RV-ready conventional portable generator.
Weight and Warranty: Champion 76533generator weighs 119 pounds and comes with a 3-year limited warranty. Also, you can contact the experts for technical support to get any information anytime for free.
Engine and Power Output: A 224cc 4-stroke single-cylinder Champion engine produces 4750 starting watts and 3800 running watts on gasoline. But on propane, its output power reduces to 4275 peaks and 3420 rated watts.
Its engine is protected under a cast iron sleeve and features a low-oil shutdown sensor that shuts down the engine because of lower oil levels.
Start System: Electric start system offers convenience, but recoil start has its benefits. It can be used when the electric start system fails to work. A battery is included to power the handy toggle switch. Also, its cold start technology allows users to turn on the generator in cold weather conditions quickly.
Tank Size and Runtime: It has a 3.4-gallon gasoline tank that gives up to 9 hours runtime at 50% load. But for propane, you have to buy a 20-pound propane tank to get 10.5 hours of runtime at 50% load. A propane hose is included in the package to connect the tank quickly.
Control Panel: Its control panel features two 120 Volt 20 Ampere outlets, one 120 Volt 30 Ampere outlet, and one 120 Volt 30 Ampere RV-ready outlet. Also, there is an intelligauge, circuit breakers, and a battery switch.
Intelligauge that shows volts, frequency, and hours allows you to keep an eye on power output and maintenance intervals.
Safety: Low-oil shutoff sensor and Volt Guard are there for the protection of your generator as well as appliances.
Volt Guard keeps your appliances safe from power surges.
Sound Rating: From a distance of 23 feet, it operates at 68 dB (A).
Portability: Users can quickly move the unit as it comes with a foldable handle and never-flat tires.
You can check more Dual fuel generators HERE.
2. DuroMax XP4400E RV Grade Generator – Heaviest Generator under $500
Fuel Option: DuroMax XP4400E is also a budget-friendly generator that runs on gasoline.
Generator Type: It is a conventional portable generator.
Start System: Electric start system with a recoil backup
Weight and Warranty: Its (127 pounds) weight is slightly higher than Champion 7653. But it offers the same 3-year residential warranty.
Engine and Power Output: DuroMax XP4400E has a 208cc OHV engine featuring a cast-iron sleeve. It can produce 4400 peak watts and 3500 rated watts. With this output power, you can run numerous appliances at the same time.
Also, its engine is equipped with a low-oil shutoff sensor.
Tank Size and Runtime: It has a fuel tank capacity of 3.96 gallons that offers 11 hours of runtime at half load. This runtime is enough to get a good night’s sleep without refueling the tank.
Sound Rating: The XP4400E comes with a noise-reducing muffler that keeps the noise level at 69 dB (A).
Control Panel: If we talk about power outlets, then we have one 12V DC outlet, one 120/240 Volt 30 Ampere twist-lock outlet, and two 120 Volt 20 Ampere GFCI-protected outlets.
GFCI outlets are designed to protect users from electric shocks.
Also, there is a voltmeter and a voltage selector switch with MX2 technology. This selector switch allows users to either make full use of the 120 Volt outlets or use both the 120 Volt and 240 Volt at the same time.
Safety: Its safety features include automatic low oil shutoff and surge arrest. This surge arrest technology keeps your unit protected from power surges.
Portability: DuroMax XP4400E is a highly portable machine with two durable wheels and a long U-shaped handle.
3. WEN 56200i Portable Inverter Generator – Portable Inverter Generator under $500
Generator Type: WEN 56200i is a portable inverter generator that produces clean power.
Weight and Warranty: The weight of this unit is only 50 pounds. And, it is backed by a 2-year warranty.
Fuel Option: It is a gas-powered generator.
Engine and Power Output: WEN 56200i produces 2000 watts of peak power and 1600 watts of rated power. Its 79.7cc 4-stroke OHV engine helps it to give this power output.
Also, its less than 1.2% THD (Total Harmonic Distortion) is ideal for powering the most delicate electronics.
Eco-Mode: The eco-mode saves your fuel and money. It automatically changes the engine’s speed as you plug or unplug your devices.
Parallel Capability: If you need extra power to run more appliances or electronics, use its parallel operation outlets. For this, you need the WEN parallel kit to connect another inverter generator.
Start System: You can only start the generator manually.
Tank Size and Runtime: It only has a 1-gallon fuel tank but offers a good runtime up to 9.4 hours at quarter load. Thanks to its eco-mode, that saves fuel and offers good runtime.
Control Panel: Its control panel has two 120 Volt 20 Ampere outlets, one 12 Volt DC outlet, and one 5 Volt USB port.
Along with power outlets, there are parallel operation outlets, eco-mode switches, and low-oil, overload, and output indicators.
Safety: Low-oil and low-fuel shutdown features protect the engine. Also, overload protection saves your unit as well as electronics from damages.
Sound Rating: Inverter generators always produce less sound during operation. That’s why WEN 56200i operates quietly at 51 dB (A).
Portability: Its lightweight helps users to carry it easily.
You can check more portable generators HERE.
4. Durostar DS4000S Portable Generator – RV Generator under $500
Engine and Power Output: Durostar DS4000S is equipped with a 208cc, 7 HP OHV engine with low-oil shutoff feature. It generates 4000 starting and 3300 running watts. This output power is enough to handle multiple jobs simultaneously.
Generator Type: It is a conventional generator, perfect for RVs.
Fuel Option: You need to buy gas to power this generator.
Start System: Only features a recoil start mechanism
Sound Rating: Durostar DS4000S operates at 69 dB (A), thanks to its super quiet muffler.
Tank Size and Runtime: A 4-gallon fuel tank with a readable fuel gauge offers an 8-hour runtime at 50% load.
Control Panel: The control panel of Durostar DS4000S has a voltmeter, two 120 Volt 20 Ampere household outlets, and one 120 Volt 30 Ampere twist-lock outlet. This 30 Ampere outlet is used to power RVs.
Safety: The spark arrestor and low-oil shutdown are there for safety.
Spark arrestor limits dangerous sparks from coming out of the engine. This feature helps users to use their generators in parks and forests.
Weight and Warranty: It features a 3-year limited warranty and weighs 94 pounds.
Portability: You have an option to get a wheel kit to move your unit easily.
5. WEN 56475 Portable Generator – Best 4000-watt Generator under $500
Fuel Option: Another generator that you can get under $500 is the WEN 56475 that runs on gas.
Generator Type: It is also a conventional portable generator.
Start System: A keyless electric start mechanism provides convenience.
Engine and Power Output: Its 223cc OHV engine helps you to power various home appliances and tools. It offers 4750 starting watts and 3750 running watts.
Tank Size and Runtime: WEN 56475 can run up to 11 hours at 50% load on a 4-gallon gas tank.
Weight and Warranty: It offers a 2-year limited warranty. And if we talk about its weight, then it is lighter than Champion 76533 and DuroMax XP4400E.
Control Panel: Its control panel has an engine hour counter, power indicator light, and an ignition switch.
The engine hour counter helps users to track maintenance intervals.
Now, come to the power outlets where we have two 120 Volt household outlets, one 120 Volt 30 Ampere outlet, and one 120 Volt RV outlet.
Safety: Low-oil shutdown, automatic voltage regulator (AVR), and overload protection.
The automatic voltage regulator automatically regulates the voltage to provide constant voltage during operation.
Sound Rating: Its noise level is 68 dB (A).
Portability: Two fold-down handles and durable wheels make it a highly portable machine.
You can check more 4000 watt generators HERE.
6. Pulsar G2319N Portable Inverter Generator – Cheapest Among All
Fuel Option: This Pulsar G2319N runs on gasoline.
Generator Type: It is a portable inverter machine.
Weight and Warranty: Its 47 pounds weight makes it lighter than WEN 56200i. But, it offers a 1-year warranty.
Engine and Power Output: Pulsar G2319N gives 2300 peak watts and 1800 rated watts. It comes with an 80cc 4-stroke OHV engine that offers a clean sine wave to power delicate electronics.
Eco-Mode: Save fuel by running your generator on eco-mode.
Parallel Capability: To double the power output, you can connect another G2319N using a parallel kit.
Start System: It only offers a recoil start mechanism.
Control Panel: A 12 Volt DC outlet along with a 5 Volt USB port and two 120 Volt 15 Ampere outlets.
Also, there is an overload indicator, an operation indicator, and an oil warning display. Moreover, an eco-mode switch, circuit breakers, and parallel operation outlets are featured on the control panel.
Tank Size and Runtime: At half load, the generator can run up to 6 hours on a 1.18-gallon fuel tank.
Safety: Low-oil and overload indicators are for the safety of the generator.
Sound Rating: It is a perfect unit for outdoor gatherings as it only creates 59 dB (A) noise from 10 feet away.
Portability: A carrying handle featuring an excellent grip makes it easy to transport.
7. Rainier R2200i Portable Inverter Generator – Lightest Generator under $500
Fuel Option: The last cheapest generator in our list is the Rainier R2200i that needs gasoline to power your essentials.
Generator Type: It is a portable inverter generator perfect for camping and tailgate parties.
Start System: Rainier R2200i starts manually.
Weight and Warranty: It weighs 43 pounds and comes with a 3-year limited warranty.
Engine and Power Output: A 79cc 4-stroke OHV engine can produce 2200 starting watts and 1800 continuous watts.
Its THD rating is below 3%, which is ideal to power delicate electronic items.
Control Panel: If we talk about power outlets, then it features two 120 Volt 20 Ampere outlets and one 12 Volt 8 Ampere DC outlet. The rest of the things are the same such as eco-mode, parallel operation outlets, and low-oil, overload, and output ready indicators.
Eco-Mode: For maximum fuel efficiency, use the eco-mode.
Parallel Capability: It is a parallel ready unit that allows connecting another Rainier R2200i to double the output power.
Tank Size and Runtime: Get up to 13 hours of runtime on a 1.3-gallon tank.
Safety: Its safety features include low-oil and overload indicators.
Sound Rating: The operational sound of this generator is as low as 52 dB (A).
Portability: A built-in carrying handle and lightweight make it a portable machine.
When buying a cheap generator under $500, it is essential to focus on its features to get the best possible machine according to your needs. Here in this buying guide, we are going to highlight those features.
Output and Power Needs
Once you have decided about buying an inverter or a conventional generator, the next step is to select the power output. We suggest that you don’t make any estimates while doing this. The best way to calculate your power needs is to make a list of all the appliances you want to power during a generator and then select the most appropriate one. Consider the example below.
|1/2 HP Furnace
In the above example, we require 6250 watts to start all the appliances at one time and 3075 to keep them running together. You need a generator that can provide you with a running wattage of 3500 watts to power this setup. A mid-range generator is perfect for a small family’s residential use, small RV, and outdoor purposes. You can make a list of all the appliances and then find out the total required wattage.
Single Fuel vs. Dual Fuel
The next thing to consider is the type of fuel. A dual fuel generator is always better than a single fuel generator because it gives you the freedom of running your generator on two fuels. You may not be able to find gas due to a disaster or bad weather. In such situations, stored propane will come in handy. Propane’s shelf life is more than gas. Stored cylinders of propane can last for 8-10 years without any issues. Propane is also cheaper than gasoline. You will be surprised to know that a small dual fuel generator (under 5000 watts) gives a better runtime on propane than gas. Propane is also cleaner to burn than gasoline, and its exhaust is less harmful to the environment.
Inverter vs. Conventional Generator
Inverter and conventional generators are different in many ways.
Inverter machines are compact and lighter in weight. They produce pure sine waves so that users can power their smartphones, tablets, and laptops without worrying about power surges. Also, their parallel capability allows them to double the output power. Moreover, the eco-mode automatically adjusts the engine’s speed according to the applied load. But they produce less energy and have smaller fuel tanks.
On the other side, most of the conventional power machines are heavier but highly portable. They feature big fuel tanks that offer extended runtime. Also, they are capable of producing higher power output. But, they are louder than inverters, and not all their models are safe for powering sensitive electronics.
Before buying a generator, it is necessary to find out how many and what type of appliances and tools you are going to power. If you need a generator to power your campsites or tailgates, then 2000 running watts are enough. Or if you want to buy a conventional generator to power big appliances and tools, 4000 running watts will be enough.
Runtime not only depends on the fuel tank size. The generator type, the load applied, and the type of fuel also causes the runtime to vary.
If you are buying a conventional generator, make sure its fuel tank is more significant in size. It will help you to get a reasonable runtime. Also, try to buy a dual fuel generator because propane gives more runtime than gasoline.
On the other hand, inverter generators offer excellent runtime despite having smaller fuel tanks. They do so because of the eco-mode that adjusts the engine’s speed according to the power load.
It is also necessary to focus on the control panel of your generator. Make sure the power outlets available will help you to power all your required appliances and tools.
Always avoid buying louder generators. Inverter generators make a less operational sound than big size conventional generators. But still, many traditional machines come with a noise-reducing muffler that keeps the sound rating on the lower side.
Overload sensor and low-oil shutoff are the most common safety features. Your selected generator must have both of these for the safety of your generator. An automatic voltage regulator provides stable voltage, and a spark arrestor keeps your generator and its surroundings safe from dangerous sparks.
Generators under $500 are likely to have a small power output. Hence, it is better to look for a generator that comes with a paralleling feature. It allows you to connect two generators and enhance the power output for running heavy appliances. Same model inverters can be made parallel without any issues. For conventional generators, you will need to install a paralleling kit. Please note that the results may not be satisfied with a paralleling kit, and you may experience fluctuations.
You will rarely be connecting a small generator to your home. Most of the time, you will power the appliances directly with the generator. Therefore, it is best to buy a generator that offers maximum power outlets. Look for a generator that can accommodate all your appliances directly.
A small generator must offer excellent portability. Inverters are lightweight compared to classical generators. Regardless of the type of generator, you must look for high-quality wheels, carry handles, and a lifting hook to make your generator highly portable.
It is best to have two starting mechanisms in your machine. You may not always want to pull the starting rope every time the power goes out, or you are outdoors. Hence, it is better to have an electric start option as well. Electric start generators are a bit costly as compared to recoil starting models. Remote start generators are expensive and don’t come under the range of $500.
Warranty and Certifications
Look for a generator that offers maximum warranty and comes with certifications from EPA. Such add-ons increase the value of your money and give you peace of mind. A warranty helps you get your generator fixed in case of any defaults during the warranty period. Make sure you read all the terms and conditions associated with the warranty.
The price is already under $500 for all the generators. Hence, there is no point pondering over price and features. All the generators in our list are the best in this range.